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Shared Drains,Manhole in my garden/house, what are my rights?

(6 Posts)
Fio2 Fri 05-Aug-05 18:00:55

as some of you know, yet again i was forced to let 'drain' people into my garden, well the manhole is in a back porch, so my house really, at night. i was on my own. i had started a thread because some strange man had been persisitently ringing the doorbell and looking through my letterbox. turned out it was the landlord from next door. When the waterboard arrived and I realised who it was i said I would open the back gate and they could 'rod' the drains.

Tbh, I felt quite unerved as my back gate was open in darkness and I am home alone. This has happened several times now, and the last two or three occassions it has been duie to the fact drugs have been flushed down the toilet by nexzt door when the town has a drugs sweep. lovely place, i know.

I just wanted to know, can I refuse access to the manhole. i know it would cause a nuisance to next door, but it causes a blumin nuisance to me and no-one ever gets charged with drug offences as the people flushing it never report it. Plus all the flushing makes my house stink, and the other night it woke both my kids up several times.

i am a miserable cow I know but I just wondered what can i do about it? <I have turned into my mother>

pabla Fri 05-Aug-05 18:16:19

Fio2, can you post some more details about your property and I should be able to help (used to be a bit of an expert on these things in a previous existence!) I would need to know if it's council/ex-council or private and roughly how old it is. Is the back porch an extension added after the house was built?

Fio2 Fri 05-Aug-05 18:49:50

its a privately owned house (with mortgage obv ) and it about 128 years old, its victorian anyway. the manhole is under the steps which has a door on like a porch, which i imagine were added after but they are old slate so were most probably very old

pabla Fri 05-Aug-05 21:42:14

Hi Fio2

Sounds like an odd place to have a manhole, but here goes...

From a legal pov, a "sewer' is a drainage pipe serving two or more properties (for example next doors and yours) and a public sewer is one where the maintenance is the responsibility of the water company for your area. Obviously most of the pipes under the roads are public sewers but also, due to changes in the law over the years, many minor pipes are also deemed to be public sewers even where they run through peoples back gardens or even, as in your case, under their houses. Going by the age of your property I would guess that the manhole in your porch is on a public sewer. The plus side of this is that you don't have to pay towards having any blockages cleared, the downside as you know is that you have to allow contractrors access to the manhole.

If you refused them entry the water company could go to a magistrate to get a warrant to allow them to enter. Obviously the water company should be reasonable in terms of when it comes knocking on your door (unless it was a real emergency.) For example, unless sewage was flowing out into next doors I would expect them to be able to wait until the morning to rod the sewer, on the basis that most households don't use the toilets, washing machines, have baths, etc in the middle of the night so the situation should not get worse and so could be left for a while. It might depend on how many other houses are connected to that pipe though.

So in answer to your question, you can't really stop them coming in to get access to the manhole but you might be able to delay it until a time that suits you better. If this is happening on a regular basis (which i'm assuming it is from your original post) the water company themselves should be trying to tackle the cause (because it is costing them money if for no other reason) but it might also be worth getting in touch with your local environmental health officer (EHO) about this. I can't remember all the legal aspects but I have a feeling that the EHO may be able to tackle the next door landlord more easily than the water company can to try to stop his tenants putting stuff down the drains.

The other thing you might want to consider is asking the water company if it is feasible to build a new manhole somewhere else on the sewer and close up the one in your porch. However, they might expect you to pay for this work. It's not usually a good idea to have a manhole inside a property anyway, from a health point of view. If someone was building an extension nowadays and it was being build over an existing sewer, they would generally have to move the manholes so as not to be inside the extension.

Sorry this is a bit long but hope it helps. BTW, if you are in Scotland the law regarding these things is different there I believe so don't know if all the above would apply.

Fio2 Fri 05-Aug-05 22:01:34

thanks pabla that was very very helpful

I will contact the EMH on monday, thanks x

Fio2 Fri 05-Aug-05 22:05:28

EMO even, sorry i am very tired

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